Product names are like bikesheds

We've recently undergone a renaming at mobdok psonar and are starting to really engage with beta users, potential investors and the like. Putting the two together results in whole pile of comments about the brand name. Now, to state the obvious, I'm not a marketing expert and I know next to nothing about effective corporate branding but that doesn't stop me having an opinion and that's precisely the problem.

If you've not encountered Parkinson's law of triviality then nip off and read an old freeBSD post about it first - then come back here and read my less polished version.

So, you've been working on your startup for what is now beginning to approach actual calendar years, instead of just feeling like years. You've been working on your final pitch for weeks. You've got a lovely deck full of trend lines pointing optimistically skywards. You've even got some code that mostly works and looks slick. You try and explain all of this to a new person and what do they pick up on? What can they pick up on? Unless you get very lucky or else have a very extensive book of contacts, the odds of an insightful analysis of the ongoing merger between mobile phones and netbooks and how it affects the longer term positioning of your product is unlikely. The chance of getting a detailed critique of the bottlenecks in a typical MySQL-backed RoR Web Service and how it applies to your fledgling API is probably even smaller. However, saying that the brand name isn't memorable, evocative or spellable is easy, anyone can do that!

What compounds this problem for me is an utter lack of knowledge on the marketing front. I'm lacking the basic data and tools to engage in the conversation - probably time for a crash course! Combined with this, all the companies I think of being counter examples, google, flickr, even 37signals. Are they memorable? evocative? spellable? Are they successful? Ultimately that's the only bit to worry about.


Not entirely dissimilar to how Quantum Foundations research gets rebranded as Quantum Information Theory...


(This is not an entirely random post. You and I were contemporaries during our PhDs)